by Atul Kumar
To enhance the operational capability of the TEJAS, the IAF has planned to equip it with advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. Just before Aero India 2019, the TEJAS received its interim FOC certification and includes some advanced features, being flight envelope expansion, improved AoA, mid-air refuelling, BVR capability, some air-to-surface weaponry, plus a more capable braking system.
The IAF is considering equipping the TEJAS with more advanced weaponry including laser guided bombs and short range cruise missiles. In February 2019, DRDO also announced that the TEJAS would be fitted with the new Brahmos NG, a lighter version of the Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile with a range of some 300 km which is 50% lighter and some 3 metres shorter than the standard version.
Apart from this, the IAF has considered some additional indigenous options, including a number of smart air-to-surface munitions such as SAAW, High Speed Low Drag Aircraft Bomb (HSLD), 1000 kg guided bombs and the Sudarshan LGB, New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM) Rudram-1.
DRDO labs, essentially the ADE and IRDE, are developing the next-generation Sudarshan laser-guided bomb (LGB) with improved rolling capability, accuracy and also enhanced glide-range with GPS. This new LGB will allow the TEJAS to hit targets more precisely at ranges of up to 50 km while the NG-LGB Sudardhan is claimed to be comparable, or possibly even better than the GBU-12 Paveway which has been in service with IAF’s Mirages and Jaguars for some time. The DRDO has also successfully developed an advanced Laser Designator Pod to guide laser bombs such as the Israeli origin Spice and Sudarshan LGB.
The ARDE is in process of developing a new family of High Speed Low Drag Bomb (HSLD) bombs that can exploit higher supersonic carrying speeds and extensive flying envelopes of various fighters in IAF inventory. ARDE has successfully designed and developed 250 kg, 450 kg, and 500 kg HSLD bombs; which are effective against ground targets including railway yards, bridges, bunkers, and other hardened targets.
The ARDE has contoured these weapons with two different tail units according to different mission profiles including retarder tail unit (RTU) for highspeed, low-level bombing and ballistic tail unit (BTU) for high speed, high altitude bombing. The precision-guided version of the 450 kg and 500 kg HSLD are designed for carriage by the Su-30MKI and TEJAS. The 500 kg Precision Guided High Speed Low Drag Aircraft Bomb (PGHSLD) features a nose extension unit (NEU), a smart tail unit (STU), and fixed canard on the nose to elevate and stability.
The guided weapon also incorporates a semi-active laser seeker, a fibre-optic gyro (FOG) based inertial navigation system, GPS module, a GPS antenna and anti-jamming GPS antenna for guidance and anti-jamming.